Watchdog Blog

Archive for April, 2009

Herb Strentz: No ‘Allegeds’ Needed

Reporting facts as facts is heartening in these times The headline over the Associated Press article in the Des Moines Register Tuesday was straightforward: “Auschwitz letter/is found in wall.” But I was surprised by one graph and even more so by my reaction to it. The story told how a construction crew in Poland found [...]

Dan Froomkin: Send Krugman to the Press Conference

President Obama holds a prime-time press conference tomorrow night to mark his 100th day in office, and if the major news organizations really want to make it interesting, they won’t send their White House corrrespondents. No, I’m not suggesting a boycott. What I’m proposing is that, depending on what they want to probe, news organizations [...]

Herb Strentz: Another Survival Guide for Tough Times

When the economy slumps, the news media serve readers and viewers with all kinds of tips on how to make one’s money go farther, how to trim spending, where to get the best buys, etc. If your local media are like Iowa’s, most of these hints are just plain common sense — do comparative shopping, [...]

Barry Sussman: The torture coverage

We planned our Nieman Watchdog series on torture before President Obama released four secret memos that spelled out what techniques interrogators could use, thereby unleashing furious public reaction and an enormous wave of news and editorial page coverage. Now it seems that what we had in mind—keeping Bush administration torture and other abuses of power [...]

Barry Sussman: A Nieman Watchdog Project—the Torture Record and the Press

The book is not yet closed on torture and other possible crimes ordered by American leaders in recent years. A lot is known but a lot isn’t. Exactly what happened in Bagram, in Guantanamo, in Abu Ghraib and in dark rendition prisons? How many people were whisked off and put away for no good reason? [...]

Carolyn Lewis: Repealing the 2nd Amendment

“Each country has its own quirks,” President Obama noted at his London news conference last week. He was trying to show a tolerance for the differences between foreign cultures and our own. But as the news media around the world report events here in the United States, other people have learned that one particular American [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: ‘Our Liberties We Prize’

Not long after I landed in Iowa in the early 1950s I trekked to the state house to listen to a debate about a proposed loyalty oath for public employees. Senator Joseph McCarthy was riding high in those days and an epidemic of loyalty oaths had swept the country. I figured Iowa would be next; [...]

Herb Strentz: Some Perspective on the Iowa Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling

Des Moines–As readers probably know, the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court on Friday found unconstitutional a 1998 state law that defined marriage as a union of man and woman. The unanimous decision said that law violated the equal protection clause of the state constitution. Given that the decision will have social and political ramifications for years [...]

George Lardner Jr.: No Pardons, No Commutations.

President Obama wanted to hit the ground running when he was sworn in, but there are thousands of federal convicts and ex-convicts waiting for him to wake up and take notice of their requests for pardons or commutations. Of all the powers granted to him by the Constitution, his authority here is complete. Yet he [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: When a Financial Newsletter Goes Overboard

Let’s say that Bernard Madoff duped not only investors but also the press and that, having heard about his celebrity customers, the financial press publicized the ostensibly generous returns that caused even savvy investors to flock to him. Naturally, the attention would be good for Madoff’s business. Question: When Madoff’s swindle was revealed, would the [...]